Thursday, 30 July 2009

Another Step Towards Dignity

Congratulations to Debbie Purdie on winning her right to have the assisted suicide law clarified. It is inhumane that anyone could be arrested and subjected to possable criminal prossecution so soon after seeing loved one's die. Ms Purdie's win is a huge blow for the euthanasia lobby, im so pleased that the Law Lords have seen sense on this subject.

One minor quibble though. Simon Gillespie, in the wake of the verdict said "There are 100,000 people with MS across the UK...". However the prevalance study of his own organisation is not sure of the true extent of this under-exposed disease, stating "New research funded by the MS Society shows that there are likely to be around 100,000 people with MS in the UK." Not good for the organisation which identifies the wrong vitimin (D rather than D12) as being beneficial to MS Sufferers.

No excuses, its now time to get that MS register up and running.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Diageo: A Warning From History

Things I missed in the last few week’s while working late number one…

James Robertson was a grocer in Paisley, who in the 1860’s started to make marmalade and jams, particularly the “Golden Shred” brand of Marmalade. It is now more famous for adopting the “Gollywog” as a trademark in the 1920’s. However, in the 1970’s Robertson’s decided to leave their Paisley home in Stevenson Street.

Arguably it has never really been the same since they left Paisley, as other companies went past Robertson’s in the sales stakes. So much so that last year, Robertson’s owners announced that the Robertson’s brand would be discontinued.

So what are the lessons for Diageo, owners of Johnny Walker, who have announced their intention to pull out of Kilmarnock and Port Dundas, merging operations into their Shieldhall plant. It should be mentioned, since it appears absolutely nowhere on the BBC website, that Diageo made a profit of £1.63 billion last year. The main one would be not to turn your back on the people who make your product. I’m sure sales of Robertson’s dive-bombed in the wake of the move. I’m sure as well that other products who left Scotland in an acrimonious manner, have not recovered sales here. Timex springs readily to mind.

The other lesson would be to ensure that the quality of your product remains intact. Robertson’s Jam had apparently never been the same since they left Paisley. As I said earlier, other rivals took over. Notably Hartley’s, who Premier Food’s are going to concentrate their energies on. Scotland has more than Johnnie Walker, in terms of fine Whisky.

No-one has come out of this situation well, apart from the Diageo employees who continue to set the standard for dignity which our elected representatives failed to do… once again. The finger pointing and blame game, simmering away between the SNP and New Labour does no-one any good. Time to find your spine chaps.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Sma Shot Day - 2009

Last year I blogged about Sma Shot Day, which is an annual fixture in the Paisley calendar. This year’s event took place last Saturday (July 4th). I would have posted these pictures sooner, but for events, overtime at work and just generally not having enough time in the day.

In the words of the website, this is what Sma Shot is about…

This Saturday 4th July 2009 is Sma ‘ shot day in Paisley, the day traditionally begins with a parade from Brodie Park this year leaving at 12 noon, weaving its way to Abbey Close, led by a replica of the Charleston Drum with Tony Lawther at the realm of the drum, The parade shall feature banners representing Ferguslie, Toonheid, Sandholes, Sneddon, Causeyside, Newtoun and Charleston.
A wealth of stalls, funfairs, street theatre and onstage entertainment – including a re-enactment of the Sma’ Shot Story by local youth theatre PACE, and the ‘Burning of the Cork’ – will ensure that Saturday night will be a memorable one.

This year there is a later start to the parade as it weaves out of Brodie park at 12 noon, and with the whole day overhauled this year to include sections designed to meet age groups there is something for everyone, Clyde 1 , street entertainers and the highlight of the night starting at 8pm for the festival of fire and burning of the cork and music this is the ideal time to spend your day in Paisley.

What is Sma’ Shot Day? The festival came about as a result of a political battle fought between the weavers of Paisley and their employers, the manufacturers, in the 19th Century.

The Sma’ (small) Shot was a cotton thread which bound all the colourful weft threads into the warps of the famous shawls.

However, the Sma’ Shot was unseen in the finished garments and so the manufacturers, known locally as ‘corks’, refused to pay for the thread. The weavers had no choice but to buy the thread themselves. Without it the shawls would fall apart and the weavers would not be paid for their work. A long dispute followed.

The Charleston drum, which was beaten through the streets of Paisley to summon the weavers in times of trouble, was beaten once again to rally the weavers in protest marches. After a long and hard struggle, the manufacturers backed down and the weavers were paid for the Sma’ Shot.

In 1856 the first Saturday in July, a traditional holiday for the weavers, was renamed Sma’ Shot Day in honour of the victory.

From that day and for many years, the Charleston drum was used to rally weavers and lead them to the departure point for their annual trip, usually “doon the watter” to Ayr.

The demise of the weaving industry, the introduction of the five day working week and a change in local government brought an end to Sma’ Shot Day in 1975, but in 1986 local councillors and the people of Paisley decided to revive this great tradition.

Since then, on the first Saturday of July, once more the beating of the Charleston drum rallies the people of Paisley to a gathering outside Paisley Town Hall, and a procession is held through the streets of Paisley, led by ‘The Cork’, an effigy of one of the manufacturers defeated by the Paisley weavers

Last Saturday was a better day than last year, at least there was sunshine, and while the parade has evolved rapidly over the past couple of years, I am not really too sure about moving the burning of the cork to later (arount 10pm-ish) on the Saturday.

We did see the PACE group’s re-telling of the story of the Sma Shot, well acted with a script which was a cross between Titanic and Strike! The irony of a day in honour of people, who if they pulled the same stunt today would be universally condemned by the “dignitaries” now queuing up to support Sma Shot Day, was... well you I think can write the rest.